Tyrone Avenue is the picturesque main street of Parkview, Johannesburg. Normally home to strolling families, tourists and seekers of a tranquil shopping experience, it is much quieter today. It was this way last week too. A local supermarket here has half its shelves emptied and employees encourage you to look elsewhere for toiletries and other essentials. A lot is changing.

The start of the coronavirus pandemic in China in December last year is the newest in a succession of diseases — SARS, Ebola, swine flu, avian flu — that have somehow migrated from animals to the human population. Before the outbreak, global growth was pegged at 2.3% but according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, this is now likely to only be 1.9% — the slowest growth rate since the global financial crisis. Estimated loss of global real GDP is an estimated $2.3-trillion...

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